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Amps are overated? - Page 17

post #241 of 252
Yes amps are generally overstated here and many are overpriced.

They are useful though if you want noises to come out of your phones.
post #242 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeggy View Post
Yes amps are generally overstated here and many are overpriced.

They are useful though if you want noises to come out of your phones.
Amen, although my headphones do look excellent just laying there on my desk. But they look alot better when they are on my head.
post #243 of 252
Headphone amps do help SQ if done right and I feel low impedance headphones actually benefit more with an amp than high impedance headphones because they are a heavier load to drive (require more current).

The technical reason is as follow:

- Most portable players have AC coupled outputs for safety reasons. but due to the small size, they usually have low quality dc blocking caps at the output which affects the bass response (cut off freq is high wrt impedance of headphones). A headphone amp acts as a buffer as it has a high input impedance. If done right, the headphone amp will allow the deeper bass frequency to pass through to the headphones.

- Amps should have a higher output current and lower distortion. The source will be relieved of its duty to drive the low impedance load by passing it to the amp. If done right, the amp with its high output current will be able to drive the headphones with overall lower distortion. This will affect the detail and accuracy of the sound which may be subtle because our ears are not all that sensitive.

- Audio clipping can be reduced on high impedance headphones. Most portable source have a small maximum peak to peak voltage of about 2.5V. This will cause clipping on high impedance headphones especially when the volume is cranked up. Amps with the larger power supply voltage (say 9V) will provide a greater voltage headroom and larger output voltage swing before clipping. This allows a higher volume on high impedance headphones.

Personal reason:

- All amps and interconnects color the sound. There really is no such thing as 'wire with gain'. Even if there is such a thing, why get an amp anyway if it is only going to sound louder but not going to sound 'better'? The amp and interconnect gives the listener the opportunity to 'tune' the sound to his/her liking. This is great because the SQ of the source and headphone combination may not be what a discerning listener likes.

- Additionally, the volume control knob is really useful on the amp. Sound volume can be controlled easily and precisely.

Therefore, amps do help in SQ if done right. How much a price to pay really depends on how much one cares about the sound and it is really a matter of personal preference. I for one like to have an amp around me.
post #244 of 252
Is my amp too expensive just to be a headphone amp? By anyone other then Head-Fi people, the answer is a HECK YES!!! Never mind my sources. But so what, the extra gain and coloration sounds great.

However, I should press that I believe in source first. Why have an uber expensive amp if you're using a limiting source on it (ie DAP or consumer sound card)?
post #245 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Davesrose View Post
I believe in source first. Why have an uber expensive amp if you're using a limiting source on it (ie DAP or consumer sound card)?
I rememebr an analogy that What HiFi used to say about this. Your speakers (headphones) are like a window. A good headphone is a very big and clear window. The source is like the show case behind the window. If you have a nice show case, it's worth installing a big clear window in front of it. If you have little in the show case, the big window only serves to reveal the flaws more clearly.

People more easily spot a big window from a distance though.
post #246 of 252
When I first came here I bought into the portable amp idea as well. Didn't take me long to figure out that the $70 portable (4V) amp sounded like crap vs my receiver. Luckily I had a home receiver with a good head-out to compare or I would have thought the same as the OP. My opinion is that these portable amps don't have the voltage to make a difference other than serving as a buffer to give a little more bass extension.

I built a Millett hybrid and was amazed at the difference. Then I built a solid state buffer for it and it improved beyond what I could ever imagine.

Amps do make a difference, but IMO stay away from low voltage battery powered "chip" amps.
post #247 of 252
Only with ipods. IMO.
post #248 of 252
Thanks Chef Medeski, I was also looking into getting an amp, but your thread just confirmed what I thought. I use my SR80 on my PC set-up and it sounds great when plugged into my Yamaha soundcard and I am I like can it sound better with an amp ? I don't even slide the volume up more than "one" notch on the KMixer and its loud enough for me, I can hear all the details and nusances. I think it all depends on the quality of the source your plugging your cans into. I heard alot of soundcards have lower output that might require an amp. Guess I will put my amp funds aside to upgrade to a RS-1
post #249 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by ken36 View Post
Only with ipods. IMO.
X2. Portable amps are more of a burden than they are an asset. I've owned a Supermacro and a SR71, sold them both. For portable use, my iPod and a good set of IEM's is all that I need and want. My recommendation for portable use is to save the $350 for an amp and $100-$175 on ALO line out and put towards the best IEM you can afford.
post #250 of 252
You cynics probably haven't heard a Single Power MPX3 with 6SN7 tubes yet, huh? I didn't think so. Next time you're in Alaska look me up and you shall hear the truth!
post #251 of 252
Great thread! I think lots of us get lost in the minor differences between this or that amp/DAC/cable/source... and forget that its the music that really moves us, not the gear.
post #252 of 252
Quote:
Originally Posted by Usagi View Post
You cynics probably haven't heard a Single Power MPX3 with 6SN7 tubes yet, huh? I didn't think so. Next time you're in Alaska look me up and you shall hear the truth!
I just received my MPX3 Slam with pliton and caps upgrade.

I own X-Meridian 7.1 soundcard and I have done the OpAmp upgrade with LM4562 (was an upgrade over the stock for the bass and dynamic).

With the same source (soundcard playing wav and mp3)
I gain soundstage, depth, slam (dynamic), better mid bass and fuller and richer voices.

Music is less analytical and smooter. More pleasant IMO.
Soundcard alone is too analytical and have a bit too much highs. Leak soundstage and depth. Music is too much left and right.

Amp do something better with headphone for me.

(I own DT990 and HD650).
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